As a more or less unchanged side from the previous weekends heroics against Bournemouth arrived at Rugby Camp confidence in the side was at an all time high.
Notable changes were Ben Cuming dropping down from the 1st Xv for some much needed game time and young “Twilight” comes into the centres returning from Hampshire under 20’s duties but last and certainly not least the judge Christian Goldsmith comes back into the side to take his place in the Row.
Tensions were high as we all realised what was at stake because a win would progress us into the next phase of the John Collins Cup, The warm up and feeling in the squad was excellent with plenty of positive comments and chat from the troops and coaches a like.
We had a plan and we knew what their plan was going to be and from the off it was clear that the home side weren’t going down without a fight. The first score came inside 5 minutes as the forwards exerted their dominance at the scrum and with secure lineout ball from Rob GICQUEL and Karl ROSEBLADE we were soon camped in the Gosport twenty two, a couple of phases later Dan Stoneman had eyes fro the whitewash and they could not stop his powerful run the conversion from Sam Paine was good and it was 7-0.
It wasn’t too long before we were on the score board again as a dominant pompey pack secure lineout ball at the front and went on a march for the line with a great maul that Gosport couldn’t halt, as the freight train crossed the whitewash the ball was put down by skipper John NICHOLS, the conversion was a tough one from the angle and was unsuccessful core 12-0.
I’m not sure if it was complacency or nerves from what was at stake but Gosport came back at the pompey line strong using their strike runner on the wing to great effect it was soon after that he danced through our backline to score under the posts and with an easy conversion pompey were dealt a blow and the score was 12-7.
As John NICHOLS gathered his troops under the posts demanding a performance the home side rose to the challenge a series of dominant scrums and well cleared lines soon saw us in touching distance of the line and it was long when Dan Stoneman controlled a 5m scrum and picked up the ball from the back and powered over the line for his second score the conversion was good and the score was 19-7.
Although it was pompey that were dominant at the scrum and lineout and good through the backs with ball in hand it was our defensive play in the loose that allowed Gosport to score next and after a few phases of play crossed the line and another easy conversion narrowed the gap to 19-14.
After a few knocks to Brenden MOON and Kevin FRENCH the pack was shuffled with John Rushton moving into the back row and myself into the front row so if the remainder of the report isn’t quite right then I apologise but it’s from memory!!!
Pompey settled down and didn’t panic and with some great scrums lineout’s and secure ball, after a few phases and quick ball to the backs their slick hands released speed demon Lee Norman to score shortly before the half with Sam Paine converting the score was 26-14. The half ended with Pompey on the back foot but secure ball we cleared our lines and the halftime whistle blew.
As we took on some much needed water on a hot day the skipper and coaches had their say and although we were leading we knew we were in for a tough game against a side that had the bit between their teeth and seemed determined to piss on our parade!!
With Gosport finishing the half on the up it was them that drew first blood in a hot, physical and some what punchy second half!!! It was a brilliant tap tackle from fullback Danny HARRIS that stopped the visitors scoring in the corner however a few phases later Gosport scored in the corner the conversion was tough and was no good score 26-19.
It was clear this game was going to go all the way and some true Pompey dog was required and so it proved when Sam Paine intercepted a Gosport attack to go the distance and score in the corner with an angle only Pythagoras could work out the conversion attempt was no good and the score was 31-19.
As the game ebbed and flowed and subs were made from both sides it was Gosport that were in the ascendancy and continued to attack once again using the strike runner on the wing to break the gain line and soon found them crossing the whitewash once more another tough kick sailed wide and the score was 31-24.
With all concerned digging in to secure the win we stuck to what we know best and battled hard to slowly forge our way towards the Gosport line it was a pick and go from the base of a ruck that aw Dan Stoneman cross the whitewash for the 3rd time another tough angle faced Sam Paine but it drifted wide once more and the score 36-24.
With a few bumps and bruises players had to be shuffled around to accommodate for what was no doubt going to be an onslaught from the visitors, it was with the last play of the game that Gosport crossed the line for the final time and right in the corner made it a tough kick that sailed wide and the full time whistle blew.
It was a good win with a lot on the line and it shows how much this team have come along when we were disappointed with a win compared to a team that couldn’t buy a win last season true Pompey Dog was displayed by all as we dug deep for the win!!
Now for the post match highlight it was a tear jerker of a moment when Twilight perked up and said that he thanked us all for making him so welcome into the side and it was a honour to play with us well it was something like that anyway I had tears running down my face at this moving moment or was it sweat…..ha ha ha
Onwards and upwards as the 2s march into the Group winners round robin